By Bob Allen
Harold Phillips, longtime coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Heartland, will transition to a new role in January, leaders of the regional CBF affiliate announced Sept. 24.
On Sept. 19 the CBF Heartland’s Coordinating Council named Jeff Langford, who currently serves as associate coordinator, as the organization’s next chief operating officer. Phillips, who has led the region formerly known as CBF of Missouri since 1996, will assume the role of church benefits advocate, helping CBF-partner churches engage in best practices for sabbaticals, retirement and congregational health.
Michael Olmstead, past moderator of CBF Heartland, said the search for a new coordinator began at the beginning of the year with a suggestion by Phillips.
“We have been blessed and have grown in ministry through Harold’s capable leadership these past 20 years, and we anticipate a bright future as we build on a noteworthy past and discover new opportunities to be the presence of Christ in these challenging days,” Olmstead said.
It turned out the leaders didn’t have to look far. Langford, 46, a lay leader at Second Baptist Church in Liberty, Mo., joined the leadership team as associate coordinator in 2004.
Current moderator Nancy Thompson said CBF Heartland was fortunate to already have on staff someone with the leadership skills necessary to follow Phillips as coordinator.
“Jeff has the qualities the council was seeking to continue engaging churches and individuals in CBF Heartland’s varied ministries,” Thompson said. “He will make the task of transitioning to new leadership easy, and with Harold’s presence and involvement in CBF Heartland for the foreseeable future, the work of our ministry partners will continue uninterrupted.”
Phillips approved of the choice.
“Jeff has brought tremendous professional and people skills to the organization,” Phillips said. “He is extraordinarily prepared to provide leadership to CBF Heartland as we move forward.”
After two decades as coordinator, Phillips said the “best part” of his new role will be the ability to continue relating to pastors and laity in the Heartland.
CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter praised CBF Heartland’s choice in the selection of Langford.
“Jeff is well known across the states and regions of CBF as a demonstrated leader and creative partner in broader CBF life,” Paynter said. “We are excited to see the work that he does to grow the region and continue to partner with CBF Global in meaningful ways. We pray for a smooth transition of leadership as Harold Phillips passes this torch, and we know that his leadership will continue to be present in the Heartland.”
CBF Heartland is one of 18 autonomous state and regional organizations that relate to the 1,900-church CBF based in Decatur, Ga. Founded in 1991 as a state-wide group for Missouri, the 50-church network changed its name in 2013, reaching out to churches in neighboring Kansas, Iowa and Illinois.
Before joining CBF, Phillips served as minister of education at Second Baptist Church in Liberty, Mo., from 1987 until 1995.
A native of Clinton, Mo., Langford, is a graduate of the University of Central Missouri and Purdue University. He is married with three children and serves as a deacon and Sunday school teacher at his church.
“I couldn’t be more excited to serve CBF Heartland in this new role,” Langford said. “As churches, organizations and followers of Christ, we are faced with incredible opportunities to partner in renewing God’s world. I am humbled and grateful to be a part of CBF Heartland’s vibrant and vital work in inspiring leaders, transformative missions and engaging communities.”
— With reporting from the CBF blog